Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has launched a ferocious attack on Sir Alex Ferguson saying the Manchester United boss is not properly disciplined by the FA when he criticises referees and that his moans about fixture favouritism are completely groundless.
Benitez was speaking in response to Ferguson’s claims in midweek that Liverpool’s title bid might crumble because of ‘nerves’.
The Spaniard didn’t pull any punches as he laid in to his adversary saying:
I want to talk about facts. I want to be clear, I do not want to play mind games too early, although they seem to want to start.
During the Respect campaign – and this is a fact – Mr Ferguson was charged by the FA for improper conduct after comments made about Martin Atkinson and Keith Hackett.
He was not punished. He is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things.
How can you talk about the Respect campaign and yet criticise the referee every single week?
We know what happens every time we go to Old Trafford and the United staff. They are always going man-to-man with the referees, especially at half-time when they walk close to the referees and they are talking and talking.
All managers need to know is that only Mr Ferguson can talk about the fixtures, can talk about referees – and nothing happens.
We need to know that I am talking about facts, not my impression. There are things that everyone can see every single week.
To complain and to always have an advantage is not fair.
Benitez also heavily criticised Ferguson’s complaints over supposed favouritism over fixtures.
Two years ago we had a lot of early kick-offs away on Saturdays when United were playing on Sundays. And we didn’t say anything.
Now he is complaining about everything, that everybody is against United. But the second half of the season will see them playing at home against all the teams at the top of the table, it is a fantastic advantage.
At Christmas, United played on the 29th and the rest of the teams played on the 28th. We were away against Newcastle two days after playing Bolton. They were playing about 40 hours later, but they were not complaining then.